Candy is a deep movie about love and human weaknesses that destroy all the best inside a human being and around him or her (Armfield, 2006). A young married couple dependent on drugs is considered in the center of the plot. Initially, their life is full of love and happiness when they meet and fall in love. The first part of the film is conditionally named “Paradise.” However, substance use cannot provide infinite-free and happy existence. Young people experience new sensations and seek ways to satisfy their desires. The second part “Earth” tells the story of their marriage and the hardships of life together, which is accompanied by painful attempts to overcome an addiction. The last part “Hell” shows the collapse of the relationships and the major revision of the attitude towards life (Armfield, 2006). Thus, Candy is a drama about great love and drug addiction predominance, which eventually destroys the love and the whole life in all senses.
Reasons for the Main Character’s Substance Abuse/Dependence
Dan (Heath Ledger) and Candy (Abbie Cornish) are protagonists of the film. They are experiencing deep feelings for each other, but their relationship is breaking down under the influence of drugs. Young people are both weak in spirit, but creative ones who periodically seek new impressions for their creative activity. Dan is a poet, who lives in his privately created world. Candy is an artist (a painter) who initially likes the Dan’s way of life. She was brought up by strict parents, but her familiarity with Dan elated her. The girl wants to study his world and become part of it. Thus, she enjoys drugs and becomes obsessed with them even more than Dan. Moreover, the latter is surrounded by several friends, addicts as well who support him and Candy. It promotes their dependency. For this reason, there are three following reasons for key characters’ substance abuse: specific professions (coupled with the moral weakness of both characters), desire to learn new feelings supported by a psychological trauma (Candy) and the surrounding supporters (fellow addicts).
Symptoms of Substance Abuse/Dependence
Drug addiction is defined by the presence of three (or more) symptoms or behaviors on the DSM-5 scale (Clinical Tools, Inc., 2015). The main characters experience the following of them:
- Reduced effects of the prolonged use of the same amount of substance. It should be underlined, that this provision concerns rather drugs’ quality than quantity.
- Dan and Candy have a strong desire and make unsuccessful attempts to reduce or control the use of drugs.
- The young couple wastes a lot of time on the actions necessary to obtain the substance. Moreover, all their lives are subjected to this activity. Candy becomes a prostitute, and Dan steals wallets and bankcards.
- Drug abuse leads to their social and professional degradation. Dan stops writing, and Candy is no longer engaged in painting. They live in poverty and raise money for drugs only.
- They continue to use heroin despite the awareness of constant physical and psychological problems caused by the drug.
Reasons to Enter Recovery
Attempts to recover become necessary in the couple’s life. The core reason is Candy’s pregnancy. Dan and his wife decide to discontinue drug abuse independently because they understand that their happiness is destroyed because of addiction. It is noticeable that Dan comes up more consciously to such a decision. Before pregnancy, he had offered Candy to stop, but she did not take his proposition seriously. Moreover, she said that she wanted to continue working to spend money on the next dose and called Dan to do the same. The guy was sure that they both would be able to stop at the crucial moment. However, in reality it is much more difficult. Professional help can be the only fruitful approach to recover.
Reasons to Relapse
A relapse was inevitable for several key reasons. First, Dan and Candy come to the decision to overcome addiction thoughtlessly. It is due to pregnancy, which already exists. Thus, there is no prepared base for successful recovery. The second reason is that they do not seek professional care and try on their own to stop the use of drugs. Thirdly, the couple does not change a lifestyle. Dan is still unemployed (he considers only temporary part-time work). Young people continue living in their private world, not keeping close contacts with normal healthy people. Relapse occurs shortly after the Candy’s baby loss as a result of the discussed factors. Dan and Candy had managed to resist temptation only for some time, but Candy’s nervous breakdowns and deep depression of both young people became a catalyst for their return to drugs.
Co-dependents and Enablers in Dan and Candy’s Surrounding
Searching and using drug doses can be complicated because of the lack of like-minded people. Dan has interested friends. His core confederate is professor Casper (Geoffrey Rush), who provides Dan and Candy with doses and can tell how to use the material for getting drugs. He is an adult and authoritative person, perceived as Dan’s father. The guy trusts the professor and is guided by him. Additionally, Dan has few friends who play an equally important role in his life and are also interested in drugs. Candy has no fellow addicts. Thus, she supports relations with those who are in contact with Dan, finding casual acquaintances.
Programs to Enter Recovery
A twelve-step program in conjunction with the team influence could have helped the main characters to overcome drugs (Smart Recovery, n.d.). The final part of the movie shows that Candy gets support in a specialized clinic, and Dan returns to a relatively normal life, working hard and hoping to meet his wife again. She has become his core motivation.
In terms of a reasonable and argumentative approach, young people could have overcome their addiction to drugs much earlier and save the relationship. There are many rehabilitation centers, where people overcome addiction/dependence, talking in groups of like-minded individuals. The Smart Recovery program explains in details the core approaches and incremental four-step progress in overcoming addiction.
Factors Particularly Effective in Promoting/Maintaining Recovery
For core protagonist Dan (his life story could be heard in the movie’s background), Candy could be the prime motive to recover. Pregnancy and childbirth became real reasons to attempt to overcome drug addiction. However, the death of his son aggravated the situation. The prospect of a full-fledged family and demand in society (recognition of his talent) could have helped him to fight an addiction, but Dan is described as a listless person. He does not try to change his life radically. The weakness of his character is proven by the fact that he has not done anything substantial to rescue Candy from prostitution.
A real motive for Candy to get rid of drug addiction is not visible. Her relationship with Dan is a cause of her drug dependence. For healing, she needs to get away from him. In fact, she has cured in clinic apart from her husband, and it has yielded positive results. Moreover, strong and trusting relationships with parents, who supported their daughter after all the misfortunes, could significantly contribute to Candy’s recovery. Thus, it proves the primary importance of psychological conditions.
Decisions for Remaining Sober and Abstinent
The only solution, which could have equally helped Dan and Candy to recover, was to change lives deliberately. As a result, the major decisions for Dan are the following: several attempts to create a family and support Candy. Moreover, observing the deaths of friends because of drug overdose, he is clearly conscious of the probable end of his life. Thus, he starts a struggle for his future.
Candy does not make such decisions. She comes to a hospital because of a nervous breakdown. It is difficult to judge her conscience clearly. She realizes that her life is falling apart and blames Dan. The only correct solution for her could have been a choice in favor of healthy relationships inside her family (parents) and self-development in the field of art.
Personal Attitude toward the Movie
The movie is a typical story of people, who desire to achieve eternal bliss (paradise). For this reason, they turn to drugs, because nothing can ensure a carefree life and everlasting happiness (or its illusion) without hard work and the difficulties of life. The attitude to this story is full of sympathy and abhorrence at the same time. Weak and lonely Dan (no one cares about him) and beautiful Candy, who has a real family (parents), are different in their social statuses. Their life together would have been happy if Candy had not fallen into the abyss with her husband but helped him to recover. However, this view can be challenged by the fact that Dan likes his lifestyle. Moreover, his carelessness and thoughtlessness has attracted Candy. Obviously, if he were not a drug addict, Candy would not be with him. It talks about her deep mental problems.
The final scenes of the film, where the young people break up (it is hard to say whether their parting is long), give hope that Candy will return to the healthy lifestyle. Ironically, the fate of Dan causes a little concern. His lack of strong will that has fascinated Candy to the bottom of life does not find excuses and understanding. However, it is not so completely. Originally, he has been a drug addict. It explains the tragedy of his life, and, particularly, the life of Candy, who has fallen in love with him.
Throughout the movie examined above, there are several moral conflicts. Candy is a story of two spiritually weak, irresponsible people who have not found themselves in life and society, but found each other. Their mad love is the only bright feeling, which has been desecrated by heroin dependence. The film shows the stages of degradation of personalities and their relationships under the destructive influence of addiction. Thus, it can be a clear example to those who want to find a way to achieve happiness by the easiest way without a diligent effort. As a result, the paid price exceeds fleeting satisfaction.